Other writers have often told me how their characters just develop a life of their own.  I must admit that I was sceptical when I heard this.  After all, as the writer, you’re the one that puts pen to paper or in this digital age, the one whose fingers fly across the keyboard.  So, I asked myself, how can you not be in control of what you’re writing?  I wasn’t sure either if I’d be happy with my characters doing things that I hadn’t planned for them.  As I started retyping the first chapters, I suddenly realised what my author friends had said was true.  My hero had become a little too nice for my liking and needed to do something bad to add some conflict.  I had no idea what he was going to do, but when I read back what I’d written, I was shocked.  My character had done something that I would have said was out of character and I certainly had never envisaged him in that situation.  It seemed that he really was taking on a life of his own beyond the realms of my imagination.

To get to this stage. however, involves a lot of planning.  The characters have to appear real, even if they are not! It goes beyond a simple physical description and as another friend pointed out, characters who look at the heroine with ‘steely blue eyes” are a bit of a stereotype and a definite no-no for her at any rate.  So, rather that describing them, I hoped to let their characters shine through their actions.  Instead of saying that my character loves books, I would endeavour to show her constantly reading or engaged in conflict with another person about the fact she’s becoming a bookaholic.  I tried to get to know my characters as well as I know my friends – what would they eat for breakfast, what music do they listen to, do they have brothers and sisters, their favourite colour etc.   I’m sure this has helped me to create credible characters and when yours start to take on a life of their own, you’ll know you’ve succeeded.

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